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Write every day: Releasing grief

Yesterday I hit a big goal! By Halloween, I wanted to be able to take a walk around my neighborhood. I took 2 walks with the help of my sister, Maria, and my dog, Phin—one for an hour in Central Park and another for 90 minutes in Riverside Park. These were my first walks outside since my breast cancer surgery. It felt glorious to fill my lungs with fresh air and to feel the sunshine on my face.

And then, this morning happened. I had a nightmare last night that I was surrounded by my friends but no one could see me or hear me. I was already on edge from that when I mistakenly dropped one of my chest drains, painfully pulled at my stitches, and caused some pins and needles in my hand. And to top it off, I got my period.

Together, those three things broke me right along with my concerns about the election results, the “what-if” scenarios that haunt me, and the spaghetti tangle of tubes under the skin in my armpits that remind me of the NYC subway system.

My sister rubbed by back and I just wailed out of pain, fear, frustration, and anger. It felt like a dam just broke in me and an ugly cry poured out of me. It passed pretty quickly, as many things do, and it was needed.

“You can be grateful and still be upset,” my sister said. “You have to let this out and it’s okay.” And she’s right. We hold so much in times of difficulty, emotions and concerns that are at constant odds with each other.

We’re all holding so much right now. We’re grappling with massive uncertainty and uncharted territory in which it often feels like we have little to no control.

I learned today it’s okay to feel all that and then some. To admit it to ourselves and others. To cry over it. To do whatever we need to do to get through it so we can keep going. It’s not easy and that’s why we have and need each other. The only way we’re getting from moment to moment and day to day is together. And I’m grateful to be with all of you.

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